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The Commander Of PLAN Ended His Visit To Turkey

Amirals Wu Shengli and Bilgel. Photo: Official Turkish Navy photo.

It is a little bit old but I think it is too important not to write about it.

Wu Shengli, member of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and commander of the Navy of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA), returned to Beijing on the afternoon of October 10, 2012 after his successful official goodwill visit to the Republic of Turkey.

During his visit to Turkey, Wu Shengli called on Ismet Yilmaz, Turkish minister of national defense, and visited such Turkish military organizations as surface ship and submarine units, marine brigade, naval aviation force and the Turkish Naval Officer Academy.

Adm. Emin Murat Bilgel, commander of the Turkish Navy, held a welcome ceremony for Wu Shengli and held talks with Wu Shengli. Bilgel extended his warm welcome to Wu Shengli for his visit to Turkey and hoped to take the visit as an opportunity to further promote exchanges and cooperation between the two navies.

What they have talked about is up to speculations.

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On Board Of F-511 TCG Heybeliada

On 30th August 2012 for the Victory Day celebrations two warships F-245 TCG  Oruçreis and F-511 TCG Heybeliada made a port visit in Istanbul. Both ships were open to the public and I had the opportunity and privilege to visit the first ship of the Milgem class corvettes, TCG Heybeliada.

The visitors were not allowed to take photos on board thus I have no photo from the interior of the ship.

F-511 TCG Heybeliada, the first ship of the Milgem class corvettes

F-511 TCG Heybeliada, the first ship of the Milgem class corvettes

F-511 TCG Heybeliada, the first ship of the Milgem class corvettes

From left to right: RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher, ASELFlir 300, 12.7 mm Aselsan STAMP Stabilized Machine Gun Platform, Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defense launcher.

From left to right: RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM) launcher, ASELFlir 300, 12.7 mm Aselsan STAMP Stabilized Machine Gun Platform, Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defense launcher. Two laser warning receivers are also visible.

From left to right: Sea Sentor Surface Ship Torpedo Defense launcher and the panel that hides the RGM-84 Harpoon missiles.

SMART-S Mk2 3D radar and ARES-2N EW antennas

The bridge and the STING EO Mk2.

Oto Melera 76mm gun in a stealth housing.

AselFLIR 300, optical director

Sea Sentor ship torpedo defense launcher and one laser warning receiver

Turkish Warship Protects Aid Ship

M/V Dadalı escorted by F-492 TCG Gemlik. Photo: Turkish General Staff.

Two warships of Turkish Navy escorted the merchant ship M/V Dadalı during her voyage to Mogadishu.

M/V Dadalı chartered by Turkish Red Crescent was carrying humanitarian aid to Somalia. According to the photo published by Turkish General Staff most of visible cargo on board of the merchant ship consists of various types of trucks.

During the first part of the 3030 miles and 19 says long trip from Mersin, Turkey to Alexandria Egypt, the merchant ship was escorted by the corvette F-500 TCG Bozcada. The Gabya class frigate F-492 TCG Gemlik took over the escort duty in the Red Sea to the final destination of M/V Dadalı in Mogadishu, Somalia.

 

The BlackSeaFor Task Force Sailed Into The The Black Sea.

Turkish Milgem class corvette F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The flagship of the BlackSeaFor task force.

The Bulgarian minesweeper 62 BGS Shkval

The Russian large landing ship 142 RFS Novocherkassk

The Romanian Tetal 2 class corvette 265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu

The Ukrainian command ship U-510 Slavutich

Yesterday, after the command handover ceremony in Gölcük Naval Base, the 5 ships participating to this activation of the BlackSeaFor sailed away to their next port of call Trabzon, Istanbul. In order to this they had to pass through Bosphorus, where I was expecting them, as you can see from the photos above.

The August Activation Of The BlackSeaFor

F-511 TCG Heybeliada. The new flagship of the BlackSeaFor.

The August activation of BlackSeaFor will start today with a ceremony in Gölcük Naval Base, Izmit, Turkey.

The Russian Navy will hand over the command of the BlackSeaFor to Turkey. The activation of the BlackSeaFor will end on 24th August. During that time the task force will conduct several exercises and will visit Trabzon, Turkey and Novorossiysk, Russia.

Number
Name
Nation
Type
F-511 TCG Heybeliada (Flagship) Turkey Corvette
U-510 UPS Slavutich Ukraine Command Ship
141 RFS Novocherkassk Russia Large Landing Ship
F-265 Contraamiral Horia Macellariu Romania  Corvette
62 BGS Shkval Bulgaria Minesweeper

I was not able to identify the participating unit from Bulgaria and Romania. Any information regarding this ship these ships is welcome. Thanks to Mr. Mommsen from the excellent German maritime magazine Marineforum, I have all the information I needed about the participating ships.

An US Company Pays Compensation To The Family Of A Dead Turkish Admiral

This was an interesting news of an interesting development which could be turn into something big.

Family compensated after Turkish admiral dies of asbestos on US ship
A U.S. ship-building company has paid compensation to the family of a Turkish admiral who died of cancer after serving for years on a warship containing asbestos.

The Turkish admiral served on the warship Adatepe D 353, which was purchased from the United States in 1971, before he died of cancer, Güngör Karakuş of daily Habertürk reported today.

The admiral’s family, who asked to remain anonymous, sought legal compensation after they learned that the late officer contracted cancer due to the asbestos used in the U.S.-made ship. A court sentenced the company that built the ship to pay an undisclosed amount of money to the family to compensate for the admiral’s death.

The court’s ruling provided a precedent for the families of thousands of other Turkish sailors who have died of, or have suffered from, cancer to seek legal compensation from the company, lawyers Özge Haktan and Özlem Nur Öztürk said, as the Turkish Navy was known to possess a total of 25 warships built using asbestos that were all purchased from, or donated by, the U.S.

The first of the asbestos-laden warships were delivered to Turkey in 1949 as a donation from the U.S., the report said. Turkey continued to acquire ships that contained asbestos through donations and purchases in subsequent years.

Service members who worked on ships containing asbestos previously received compensation in the U.S., Italy and Greece, but the present case is the first time any Turk has received a payment.

As far as I know this is the first case of such compensation. In the Turkish version of this the sister lawyers stated that they were approached by their US colleagues during an international conference  about the possibility of collection compensations. I believe this could be a fallout of the class actions of US-based lawyers against asbestos and  the shipyards  that used this material.

I made a quick research about the destroyers transferred from US navy to Turkish Navy since the end of Second World War and about their constructors The two destroyers escorts TCG Berk and TCG Peyk were not transferred from US Navy. These ships were built in Turkey after the plans of US Navy Claude Jones class ships. It is highly possible that asbestos was used in their construction. This is why I have added them to the list.

All of the ships are long gone, a couple sunk as targets, a few turned into museums, rest scrapped. Of the 7 different shipyards that constructed the ships 4 are still in business.

Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co: 6 ships transferred from USN were built by this yard. The yard and the company does not exist any more.

Gulf Shipbuilding: 1 destroyer, transferred was build here. The company does not exist any more.

Bath Iron Works: This company is still in business. One of the few shipyards able to produce large warships for the US Navy. 3 ships from this yard was in commission in Turkish Navy.

Bethlehem Steel Corporation: This is the shipyard that produced the ex  USS Forrest Royal ex TCG Adatepe and 7 other destroyers used by Turkish Navy. Although the name of the company that paid the compensation was not disclosed in the article it is clear that it was the Bethlehem Steel Company or its current owner.

Consolidated Steel Co: This company is still in business. They have built 4 destroyers used by Turkish navy.

Todd Pacific: This company is still in business and was bought by another. One destroyer used bu Turkish Navy was built by this shipyard.

Gölcük Naval Shipyard: This is the main shipyard of Turkish Navy and is specialized in submarine and frigate production. 2 Berk class ships based on US Claud Jones destroyer escort design, were built here.

I wonder if asbestos was only used in destroyers in US Navy. Turkish Navy received a wast variety of ships, submarines, destroyers, frigates, mine hunters, patrol boats, depot ships just to name a few. Did these ships had also asbestos and if yes aren’t the sailors worked in these vessels eligible to the same compensation?

Time will tell us if this case is going to be the first one of a many similar cases or just one time hit.

Below is a list of the all destroyers Turkish Navy received from US Navy and their service time in Turkish Navy.

Pennant Name Class Builder Commissioning Decommissioning Service
D340 İstanbul Fletcher Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1967 1986 19
D341 İzmir Fletcher Gulf Shipbuilding 1967 1986 19
D342 İzmit Fletcher Bath Iron Works 1969 1980 11
D343 İskenderun Fletcher Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1969 1981 12
D344 İçel Fletcher Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1969 1981 12
D344 Gaziantep Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1950 1973 23
D345 Yücetepe Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1974 1998 24
D345 Giresun Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1949 1973 24
D346 Alçıtepe Carpenter Bath Iron Works 1982 1997 15
D346 Gelibolu Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1949 1976 27
D347 Anıttepe Carpenter Consolidated Steel Co 1981 1997 16
D347 Gemlik Gleaves Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1950 1974 24
D348 Savaştepe Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1981 1994 13
D349 Kılıçalipaşa Gearing Consolidated Steel Co 1980 1998 18
D350 Piyalepaşa Gearing Bath Iron Works 1980 1999 19
D351 M Fevzi Çakmak Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1973 1994 21
D352 Gayret Gearing Todd Pacific 1973 1995 22
D353 Adatepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1993 22
D354 Kocatepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1974 3
D354 Kocatepe (II) Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1974 1993 19
D355 Tınaztepe Gearing Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1972 1984 12
D356 Zafer Allen M. Sumner Federal Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co 1972 1993 21
D358 Berk Berk Gölcük Naval Yard 1972 1999 27
D359 Peyk Berk Gölcük Naval Yard 1975 2001 26
DM357 Muavenet Robert H. Smith Bethlehem Steel Corporation 1971 1992 21

What Really Happened To Flight Şafak 46?

Exactly one month ago, on 22 June 2012 one RF-4ETM Phantom II airplane call sign Şafak 46 from 173. Squadron of Turkish Air force took off from Erhaç airbase.

The mission of the plane was to help to the calibration of a radar in Hatay Turkey. All radar and radio contact with the plane was lost on 11:57 am local time.

The first official announcement made by Turkish General Staff on the same day, was that the contact with the plane was lost and a search and rescue operation has been initiated.

On the same day late at night it was announced by the prime minister that the lost plane was shot down by Syria. This claim was later accepted by Syrian news agency SANA. Syria claimed that they have shot down the Turkish plane inside the Syrian airspace with anti aircraft gun fire believing it was an Israeli plane. Turkey responded to these claims that the plane was not in a covert operation and its communication and IFF systems were open and operational and the plane was shot down by Syria outside of the Syrian air space. The radar tracks of the plane published both by Turkey and Syria showed that Şafak 46 did flew through the Syrian airspace 5 minutes long. The plane left the Syrian airspace ten minutes before it was shot down and never entered again. Turkey insisted that this was an navigation error and the flight control in Turkey warned the plane about this error.

Between 22 and 26 June 2012, Turkish Navy and Coast Guard units searched an area of 70 x 23 nautical miles and found some floating debris. The naval research ship TCG Çeşme located some underwater targets suitable to be the wreckage of the plane with its side scan sonar. but it was the US owned research vessel R/V Nautilus and its ROV’s that found the wreckage on 5th July 2012, 8,6 nautical miles from Syrian coast and recovered the bodies of the pilot Captain Gökhan ERTAN and WSO Lieutenant Hasan Hüseyin AKSOY.

R/V Nautilus also provided images from the wreckage with its high definition video camera and/or digital stereo still cameras.

Up to that point the incident was more or less clear event. An unarmed Turkish military reconnaissance plane was shot by Syria either inside the Syrian air space by anti aircraft guns; according to Syrian claims or outside of the Syrian air space by anti aircraft missile (as the range of the Syrian AAA cannot reach targets flying outside the Syrian airspace) according to Turkish claims.

On 11th July 2012 Turkish General Staff made an announcement about this incident and stated and the from the investigations conducted on the pieces of wreckage salvaged from the bottom of the sea and from the items found floating on the surface showed no evidence of any petroleum based fire incendiary or accelerator. Furthermore there was no evidence of any organic and inorganic explosive material residue.

In the same statement it was also announced that there were no evidence of the wreckage of the plane that it was shot down by AAA fire.

That statement created more questions and served as source for more conspiracy theories.

Two days later Turkish General Staff made to make another announcement stating that the evidence shows that the plane was not shot down by anti-aircraft guns and the exact way to determine how the plane was shot down by Syria will be possible after salvaging remaining larger parts of the plane from the sea floor.

Now this is a problem. While she was on the scene the equipment of R/V Nautilus provided very important information and it was possible to bring smaller pieces from the plane to surface. But R/V Nautilus is now in the Black Sea and is conducting scientific research as she was scheduled to do. My understanding is that there was a behind the door agreement between USA and Turkey to use the ship for a short period of time to recover the bodies of the pilots and to locate the plane. Now with R/V Nautilus away, Turkey had to create means to recover the plane. This is why the US-based Phoenix Marine, Inc., an underwater services company was awarded with an undisclosed contract to salvage the remains of the RF-4ETM.

Until the Phoenix Marine Inc. completes its work we have to speculate what really happened to Şafak 46, although I am pretty sure that because Eastern Med is a hot place right now and USA, Russia, UK, Israel, and Cyprus and many other states are focused to this region must have been witness the shooting of the Turkish plane. Will they come forward with their information is another question.

 

For further analysis about the shooting of Şafak 46 read this excellent article.

The Naval Exercise Sea Breeze 2012 Has Ended

The landing ship U 402 Konstantin Olshansky, disembarking the Ukrainian marines. Photo: Ukraine Armed Forces

The Sea Breeze 2012 naval exercise (not to be confused with Breeze naval exercise organised by Bulgaria) organized by Ukraine and held in Odessa has finished. It is  the largest multinational maritime exercise in the Black Sea.

1,500 troops from 16 countries, including U.S., Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Algiers, Bangladesh, Belgium, Denmark, Georgia, Israel, Canada, Moldova, Germany, Sweden, Portugal, Qatar, Turkey.

The list of the ships participated in the exercise is as follows:

Number
Name
Type
Country
U 130 Hetman Sagaidachny Frigate Ukraine
U 402 Konstantin Olshansky Landing Ship Ukraine
U 360 Genichesk Mine Sweeper Ukraine
U 705 Kremenets Salvage Tug Ukraine
T-ARS 51 USNS Grasp Salvage Tug USA
DDG-109 USS Jason Dunham Destroyer USA
P-331 TCG Kalkan Fast Attack Craft Turkey
P-333 TCG Tufan Fast Attack Craft Turkey
A-572 TCG Yzb. İhsan Tolunay Tanker Turkey
P-24 Sokhumi Coast Guard Craft Georgia

BlackSeaNews has a good coverage of the exercise with many interesting photos:

The Sea Breeze 2012 (Part 1)

The Sea Breeze 2012 (Part 2)

The Wreck Of The Shot Down Turkish Plane Sighted And The Bodies Of The Pilots Recovered

Today Turkish general Staff published photos from the search and rescue salvage operations Turkish Navy is conducting off Syrian coast.

As reported earlier,  the research vessel, E/V Nautilus was able to send her ROVs and broadcast live images from the wreck of the Turkish reconnaissance airplane RF-4ETM. This broadcast also confirmed what we have been  fearining: The two pilots have died and their bodes were recovered from the bosom of the sea.

This is a short summary of the all naval operations explained by Turkish General Staff:

  • Between 22 and 26 June 2012, 1 frigate, 1 fact attack craft, 1 patrol boat, 2 Coast Guard vessels, 1 plane and four helicopters searched a  70×23 miles area. During this time about 30 floating items belonging to the plane have been found.
  • Between 26 June and 2 July 2012 the survey ship of Turkish Navy A-599 TCG Çeşme searched for the wreckage of the airplane with her side scan sonar at an average depth of 1230 meters. during this operation TCG Çeşme identified 8 large pieces.
  • Between 3 and 4 July, the research vessels E/V Nautilus broadcasted images for the 8 large pieces identified by TCG Çeşme before and found the bodies of the crew.
  • TCG İnebolu an ocean capable tug with a capacity from salvaging from 3000 meters depth recovered the bodies of the pilots and started to collect pieces from the wreckage of the aircraft.
  • TCG İnebolu and E/V Nautilus are continuing with the salvaging.

Here some photos published by Turkish General Staff:

For more photos and for the location information of the wreck click here.

E/V Nautilus Starts To Search For The Shot Down Turkish Plane

The last recorded position of E/V Nautilus and the location where the Turkish fighter plane crashed.

This was rumored repeatedly last week but now it is official. E/V Nautilus is helping Turkish Navy to locate and inspect the wreckage of RF-4ETM, shoot down by Syria.

The ship was in Istanbul for the preparations of her 2012 expedition to explore the Black Sea, Aegean Sea and Mediterranean Sea off the coasts of Turkey and Cyprus.

She has departure from Istanbul on 29th June 2012 . Currently she is about to arrive at the crash location and start her mission. What makes this62 meters long  research vessel special and unique is the state-of-the-art exploration and telepresence technology has has on board.  The primary remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) on board, named Hercules and Argus, are used to view the seafloor with high definition video, take environmental measurements and collect geological and biological samples. The two secondary exploration tools, the towfish named Diana and Echo, are used to utilize side-scan and subbottom sonar technology to explore the seafloor and seek out compelling targets for closer investigation and study.  Once her side-scan sonars have precisely located the wreck of the plane the ROV will allow us to see the plane and help us to understand how it was hoot down and most importantly if the pilots are still in the wreckage or not.

According to news there will be 4 Turkish naval officers on board during the mission and six warships plus three helicopters will support and protect the E/V Nautilus.

As the wreckage is inside the Syrian territorial waters and as the most of the E/V Nautilus‘ crew most notably Dr. Robert Ballard is from USA, I guess that some kind of a deal must have been struck between Turkey, Syria and USA for this mission.

Here is a video showing E/V Nautilus off the coast of Bodrum on Sunday morning, picking up some crew members transferred by a Turkish Coast Guard vessel. The frigate TCG Gelibolu and the fact attack craft  TCG Karayel can also be seen.

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